Posted on January 15 2018 by Rod Lloyd
Awesome Games Done Quick, a week-long speedrunning marathon raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, concluded over the weekend. The marathon’s final day was chock-full of amazing speed game showcases, but the highlight was arguably the A Link to the Past: Randomizer swordless race. Two the world’s most prolific ALttP runners raced through the SNES classic, rushing their way to an encounter with Ganon without quite knowing where certain tools, pieces of equipment, or essential quest items were hiding.
A Link to the Past: Randomizer is a ROM hack of the SNES Zelda title that randomly shuffles the locations of in-game items to create uniquely fresh adventures in the A Link to the Past world. All items — from weapons, to upgrades, to rupee stashes — are placed into a pool and then randomly distributed across the game map. This process results in some beautifully chaotic results, as the bow can be deep in Misery Mire, the Cane of Samaria can be waiting in the library, or the Master Sword can be found resting under a bridge. Even the chest items in dungeons are randomized, so the search for a Boss Key could prove to be quite a challenge.
The Randomizer was showcased at this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick event, as speedrunners Andy and ChristosOwen raced through their own bizarro version of A Link to the Past. Utilizing critical thinking skills, problem solving, and their vast knowledge of the original game, the runners dashed across Hyrule and the Dark World in search of essential items, deducing each next best step forward based on the items they’d found along the way. And to add an extra layer of difficulty, the runners completed the entire run without a sword.
A Link to the Past randomized run can be extremely unpredictable, as the locations of important items could conceivably be anywhere. It’s up to the runners to be quick on their feet and predict where items will be based on the parts of the map they’ve searched already. The AGDQ race showed exactly how unpredictable an adventure like this could be, as both runners took wildly different routes to reach the end of the game. But for as erratic as their movements were, you’d be surprised by how close this race was toward the end. The victory was essentially decided by some movement optimization techniques and a few glitches.
You can watch the entire race right here. As with many AGDQ showcases, this may be the best way to introduce yourself to A Link to the Past: Randomizer speedruns, as commentators offer in-depth explanations for the tricks and strategies performed during the run. And everyone on the commentators’ couch is super entertaining as well.
What did you think of this Randomizer run? Are you willing to randomize A Link to the Past any time soon? Let us know in the comments below.